Eczema, also known as atopic dermatitis, is a skin condition that affects children and adults, making the skin pale red and itchy.
It may sometimes be accompanied by hay fever or asthma. It flares periodically, but self-care measures and treatments can help prevent fresh outbreaks and relieve itching.
New outbreaks can be prevented when you moisturize your skin, avoid harsh soaps and apply medicated ointments or creams regularly.
When eczema affects you, it can flare up, subside and flare up again. It can affect any part of your body, but the common body parts it affects include the inner elbows, arms, cheeks, scalp, or back of the knees. It is not contagious and gets less severe as you age.
Types of Eczema
Eczema comes in different types. The most common one is atopic dermatitis - the chronic type of eczema - usually characterized by a dry, red rash that itches. Other types of eczema include:
It usually occurs when you come in contact with irritants. It leads to itching, burning, and redness. As soon as the irritant is removed, the inflammation stops.
It mostly affects women, and it results in itchy, scaly patches on the skin that becomes cracked, flaked, red, and painful. This type of eczema affects the palms, fingers, soles of your feet, and hands.
This type of eczema causes dry, round patches around the skin, especially the legs. It mostly occurs during winter, and it's more common in men.
The major symptoms of eczema include:
Roughness of the skin
Other symptoms include:
Crusty patches of dry ooze
Small bumps that release fluid while scratching
Brownish-gray or red patches
Although eczema can be quite uncomfortable and itchy, avoid scratching it to prevent further irritation that may cause skin inflammation. This can result in infections.
What Causes Eczema?
The primary cause of eczema has not been fully established. However, the condition is believed to be triggered by the aggressive response of the overactive immune system when exposed to irritation. Sometimes, the condition can also be caused by the wrong response of body proteins. Ideally, the immune system works by ignoring proteins that are part of our body while it attacks only the ones that invade our bodies in the form of viruses and bacteria.
Eczema occurs because the immune system is not able to differentiate between the two proteins, resulting in inflammation.
Common causes of eczema flare-ups include the following:
Changes in temperature
Rough materials like synthetic fabrics and wool
Upper respiratory infections
How to Treat Eczema
A dermatologist, primary care doctor, or allergist can help you determine the right treatment for eczema. Different types of treatment options are available, including medical, home remedies, and lifestyle changes. Combining two or more treatments may also be helpful.
How to Prevent Eczema
You can prevent eczema by:
Getting better sleep
Keeping your skin moisturized
Avoiding harsh soap and detergents on the skin
Rubbing the affected areas when it itches
Not scratching the skin to prevent it from breaking and more inflammation
Eczema can be controlled but does eczema go away? There is no known cure for eczema, and the rashes won't simply go away if left untreated. For most people, eczema is a chronic condition that requires careful avoidance of triggers to help prevent flare-ups.
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